Saturday, January 16, 2021

D&C 35: Sundry Sidney Stuff

There's not much in the way of an unifying motif for my criticisms of this section, so rather than shoe-horn in a thematic thesis as a preamble, I'm simply going to use my refusal to shoe-horn in a thematic thesis as a a preamble.

Diving right in.

Unnecessary Clauses, Five-Yard Penalty
Remember FAIRMormon's recent video lambasting the CES Letter for its absurd claims that the Book of Mormon is Trinitarian?  Often, the wider we make the context in Mormonism, the more weighted negative information can become.  Take verse 2 for example:   

I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name, that they may become the sons of God, even one in me as I am one in the Father, as the Father is one in me, that we may be one.

Now, this isn't in the Book of Mormon, obviously, but it was a revelation given in the same year the Book of Mormon was published.  There is no reason for this revelation to continue past the phrase "even one in me" if 1830 Mormonism were not influenced by Trinitarianism.  You don't need to compare the amorphous, ill-defined unity of your followers to the amorphous, ill-defined unity between you and God the Father if you and God the Father are two completely separate beings whose coalignment can be so handily crystallized within the phrase "one in purpose."

We can debate whether the Book of Mormon is Trinitarian all we want, but when we broaden the playing field to include information from church history or other scripture, it sure does seem like the whole picture of early Mormonism leaned Trinitarian, which makes arguing about the Book of Mormon's Trinitarianism feel kind of moot.

Offsides, We Should Get a Free Kick
In the context of present-day Mormonism, verse 9 feels a bit like they wanted to sneak something past us and then pretend like it's been there legitimately all along:

And whoso shall ask it in my name in faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk.

[Some exclusions apply.]

Are there any documented modern-day examples of Mormons casting out devils, causing the blind to receive their sight, causing the deaf to hear, causing the dumb to speak, or causing the lame to walk? Healing the sick is probably more likely since sickness is a less permanent condition than, say, deafness or blindness. It's also much easier to see a prayer or a priesthood blessing as having some kind of positive causal impact on the end of an illness than it is to see a prayer or a priesthood blessing as having some kind of positive causal impact on a mute person's continued inability to speak.

This verse makes it all sound so simple and straightforward—ask in faith in Jesus's name and you'll be able to miraculously reattach someone's severed limb.  But I think most believers reading this verse in seminary class or Sunday school implicitly understand that they shouldn't expect anything like this to actually happen to them, kind of in the same way we all know that faith can move mountains but none of us is really going to move any mountains.  But why should this kind of thing be in the scriptures if we know it's not true?

Traveling, Maybe?
Verse 17 has our Father in Heaven's gift for understatement at its full strength:
And I have sent forth the fulness of my gospel by the hand of my servant Joseph; and in weakness have I blessed him;

Or maybe this is God's admission that he picked the wrong person to restore his church.  After all, he doesn't say he blessed Joseph with weakness or weaknesses—he says he blessed Joseph in weakness.  Maybe God's repudiation of Joseph Smith has been hiding out in scripture all along.  It was a moment of weakness when God chose to bestow the mantle of  restoration upon such a crappy guy.  If only God could go back in time, he'd do everything differently on the second go.

This is certainly not proof of anything and it's not really even evidence of anything, but I do find it disappointing that, time and time again, this all-knowing perfected being is so careless with his wording.

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